Let’s talk about Math in Ruby.

Do you need to know math to become a good programmer?

It depends!

If you’re just going to be writing CRUD apps all day then you probably don’t need to know much math, if any.

But if you want to do more interesting things, like solving coding challenges & be prepared for coding interviews then learning a few basic concepts can be helpful.

**Today you’re going to learn about**:

- The modulo operator
- Number systems
- Bitmasking

You’ll learn how to apply these concepts in Ruby, so this is going to be a practical guide.

## The Modulo Operator

The Ruby modulo operator looks like this:

`%`

Yes, just like the percentage symbol.

What does it do?

It gives you **the remaining of a division**.

This can be used for things like checking if a number is even or odd.

In Ruby, we have the `even?`

/`odd?`

methods.

**Example**:

8.even? # true 5.even? # false

But if you want to check if a number is divisible by 3, then you have to use the modulo operator.

**Example**:

9 % 3 == 0 # true

## Practical Uses For The Modulo Operator

You can use the modulo to check if **a number is divisible by another**.

A number is divisible if the remaining is 0.

**Example**:

The classic “FizzBuzz” coding challenge wants you to find out if a number is divisible by 3 or 5.

if n % 3 == 0 puts "Fizz" end if n % 5 == 0 puts "Buzz" end

You can use the `modulo`

operator to do things every Nth time.

**Like this**:

(1..10).select { |n| n % 2 == 0 } # [2, 4, 6, 8, 10]

Or you can use the `step`

method:

(2..10).step(2).to_a # [2, 4, 6, 8, 10]

Another use for the modulo operator is to convert minutes to hours + remaining minutes.

**Example**:

We have 90 minutes, which is the same as 1 hour & 30 minutes.

hours, minutes = 90.divmod(60) # [1, 30]

Notice the `divmod`

method:

It does division & modulo (the remaining of the division) at the same time.

## Understanding Number Systems

A number system is a way to represent numbers.

In your daily use of numbers you use the **decimal system**.

0123456789

A number system is composed of a set of numbers & sometimes characters too.

**For example**:

The hexadecimal system uses 16 symbols in total.

0123456789abcdef

Here’s a table of **common numeric systems**:

Name | Symbol Count | Symbols |
---|---|---|

Hexadecimal | 16 | 0123456789abcdef |

Decimal | 10 | 0123456789 |

Octal | 8 | 01234567 |

Binary | 2 | 01 |

You can convert between number systems in Ruby with the `to_s`

method.

Here’s how to convert from **decimal** (`9`

) to **binary** (`1001`

):

9.to_s(2) # "1001"

You can use the `to_i`

method on a string to convert back into an integer.

So if you want to go from **hexadecimal** (`ff`

) to **decimal** (`255`

) you can do this:

"ff".to_i(16) # 255

Where 16 is the “symbol count” or base for the number.

## What is Bitmasking?

You probably don’t wake up every day thinking…

“Hey! I need to **pack a lot of boolean values** into as little space as possible.”

But if someday you need to do that…

A great technique that can help you is “bitmasking”.

With bitmasking, you can pack a lot of boolean values into a single integer value.

How is that possible?

By **using the individual bits** that the number is made of.

Because a boolean value can be represented by a single bit, and an integer value has 64 bits, we can pack up to 64 boolean values into a single number.

We are going to use bitwise operators.

**Here’s a table**:

Name | Symbol | Use |
---|---|---|

XOR (Exclusive OR) | ^ | Toggle Bit |

AND | & | Check Bit |

NOT | ~ | Clear Bit |

OR | | | Set Bit |

Bitwise operators work at the BIT level & that’s exactly what we want.

**Here’s a code example**:

class Bitmask def initialize @value = 0 end def set(bit) @value |= bit end def clear(bit) @value &= ~bit end def check(bit) (@value & bit) == bit end def to_binary @value.to_s(2) end end bit = Bitmask.new

Now you can use the `set`

, `clear`

& `check`

methods to work with this data structure. You may also want to define constants to describe what each value means.

**Example**:

class Bitmask ENGINES_ENABLED = 1 CAPTAIN_ABOARD = 2 SHIELDS_UP = 4 # ... rest of code here end bit = Bitmask.new bit.set(Bitmask::ENGINES_ENABLED) bit.check(Bitmask::ENGINES_ENABLED)

Valid values for `set`

include 1 & the powers of 2 (2,4,8,16,32…), this avoids overwriting other bits.

If we have 64 + 32 + 1, the stored value will look like this:

1100001

## Ruby Math Methods

Ruby includes a few built-in math methods that can be helpful.

We already covered `divmod`

, `even?`

& `odd?`

.

**Other methods include**:

`**`

/`pow`

(exponentiation)`gcd`

(greatest common divisor)`abs`

(absolute value, removes negative sign)`round`

(round to closest integer)`floor`

&`ceil`

(round down / round up)`Math.sqrt(n)`

(square root of n)`Math.log2(n)`

(log2 of n)`digits`

(converts integer into a reverse array of digits)

**Examples**:

5 ** 2 # 25 -10.abs # 10 300.digits # [0, 0, 3]

## Summary

You’ve learned a few interesting math tricks, like using modulo `%`

to find out the remainder of a division. You can use the remainder to check if a number is divisible by another.

You’ve also learned about number systems, bitmasking & bitwise operators.

Don’t forget to share this post…

Leave a comment with your questions & feedback, and to subscribe to the RubyGuides newsletter if you haven’t yet!